Buying Americans, copying Atalanta & Tacopina's plans to make Catania 'one of the greatest teams in Italy'

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Joe Tacopina
The Italian-American investor has found success at Bologna and Venezia, but now he wants to help rebuild a fallen club

American investor Joe Tacopina has outlined his plan for returning Catania to glory as he hopes to seal a deal to acquire the Italian side.

Tacopina has previously served as Vice President of Roma and President of both Bologna and Venezia.

During his time with Bologna, the club was promoted from Serie B to Serie A  while, under Tacopina's leadership, Venezia were also promoted in back-to-back seasons, earning a spot in Serie B while making Tacopina the only president in Italian football history to win three consecutive promotions.

The Italian-American lawyer is now looking to acquire Catania, a club among the most popular in Italian football that has fallen on hard times.

Catania had been in Serie A as recently as 2014, but now sits in the third division, having been relegated from Serie B in 2015.

The club was recently saved by SIGI, a group made up of a group of local entrepreneurs, and Tacopina is one of several potential new owners looking to get involved with the club.

Currently, SIGI are fielding three offers for the team with an answer expected by the end of the month, and, should his bid prove successful, he hopes to rebuild the outfit by taking inspiration from one of Serie A's brightest clubs.

"When I talk about the Atalanta model I think about their management of the club," Tacopina told Goal.

"I like it a lot and I hope it can be replicated. The key points must be scouting and investments in the youth sector aimed at the growth of the players and we can do all this by making the most of Torre del Grifo. Then we have to develop the culture of the club."

He added: "It is an underestimated, underrated brand. Catania is one of the largest cities in Italy and has the right to aspire to have one of the strongest teams in Italy. 

"The potential is there, because in football the potential of a team is largely due to the passion of the fans. And that is certainly not lacking."

Several top Italian clubs are owned by American investors, with Roma, Parma, Fiorentina and AC Milan all operated by owners in the U.S.

It is a trend that has occurred all over Europe, with the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Marseille all being run by American investors.

Tacopina expects that trend to continue and, if he does prove successful in his bid to acquire Catania, he hopes to bring several American players to the club at some point.

"Clearly it is too early to talk about this, but yes, it is one of the possibilities that we will evaluate in a few years," he said. "When Roma signed [Michael] Bradley, many Americans started following Roma. The same could certainly happen for Catania."

"In the United States, there are many people of Sicilian origin," he added. "It would be nice to make them fond of Catania, which they may have heard little about but which could become a passion for them too because of their origins."

Tacopina says the big aim is to get Catania back into Serie A, where he believes the club belongs due to its stature.

He's experienced promotion before, with Venezia and Bologna, and Tacopina believes achieving that with Catania will be vital in waking up a sleeping giant in Italian football.

"I became president of Bologna in 2014 and at the end of the season we went to Serie A," he said.

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"Then, the following year, I won the Serie D championship with Venezia. The following year, together with Pippo Inzaghi, we won the Serie C and returned to B. So in three years I made three promotions, in three different leagues. It's a record, isn't it? A record, I believe."

He added: "It is a pity that this is the case, but it is another of our goals. We must make everyone understand that Catania retains its history, its identity, but that now a new chapter has begun and we must ensure that the errors of the past do not weigh us down. 

"Mistakes already weigh heavily on the balance sheets and the debt situation and I think we must immediately make everyone understand that now this club, while retaining its fascinating history, is now starting a new course."

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